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Since I got interested in Objectivism through Steve Ditko's work on Blue Beetle and The Question, I was intrigued by the fact that Ayn Rand was very much against altruism (in it's purest, earliest definition, pardon me if I can't recall exactly how it was defined). How would an Objectivist justify or condemn the actions of superheroes, who give up their time and risk their health (or the health of others if a villain should learn who they are and who their family/friends are) to aide others and expect no compensation for their actions?

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How would an Objectivist justify or condemn the actions of superheroes, who give up their time and risk their health (or the health of others if a villain should learn who they are and who their family/friends are) to aide others and expect no compensation for their actions?

That's a good question. If rationalcop is listening, I would be interested to know your reasons for being an officer. What about your job is rewarding enough to make it worth the risks involved?

My thought is that there would be a lot of fulfillment in enforcing justice. When someone is wronged and you can make it right. Granted you can't sell that on ebay but I bet it makes you sleep well when you arrest a rapist or whatever.

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And then this brings in ethical situations related to the superheroes. In "Watchmen," the character of Rorshach is an Objectivist and he murders criminals. Is there something in Objectivist philosophy that would justify killing a criminal or does it extend only to apprehending them.

My personal view would be that since each individual's life belongs to themself and no others, taking away that life through killing them, regardless of their crime, is taking something that did not belong to the killer to begin with, i.e. like stealing but on a larger scale.

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Depends, if you have to defend yourself then obviously killing the criminal is justified; he's the one who initiated force after all. It depends on how much of a threat the criminal is, but if someone is trying to kill you and subdueing him in non-lethal ways would be too difficult, then I'd say it's perfectly moral to kill in self-defense.

However, this is different from civilians actively seeking out criminals to kill them. That would be illegal, as the government is the agency responsible for this, but I am not sure if it's also immoral to do this. In most cases that do not qualify as emergencies you should let the police handle it, though, instead of playing vigilante :D

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I came across this article today which I think is relevant to this subject. I don't have time to critique the author's conclusions, I'll just say that what he labels neo-objectivism can exist within the framework of Objectivism.

http://www.freeliberal.com/archives/000574.html

That author seems to have a poor grasp of philosophical concepts. "Empathy and love" are not altruism. I quote Ayn Rand from an interview she did with Phil Donahue (from which a clip appears in the documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life), "You can want to help other people, and with very good reasons, but that's not altruism." Altruism is the dutiful sacrifice of your values to others, when they do not represent a value to you (because, if you value them, then you're still acting selfishly by trying to help them, as long as it's at the expense of lesser values).

Most "superheroes" have traditionally been altruistic. But I don't see why there's anything innate in being a superhero that would compel them to be altruists.

About killing criminals-- according to Objectivism, the government should hold an initiation on the retaliatory use of force. Criminals have a right to a fair trial, before being sentenced to death. Also, Ayn Rand opposed the death penalty because of the possibility of a false conviction.

But a superhero might often come into situations in which he would need to kill a villain in self defense-- or to prevent him from some immanent act of violence, such as if he has his hand on the trigger for a bomb to explode someplace, killing innocent civilians, then a superhero (or anyone, for that matter) would be justified in shooting him in the head, etc, to stop him.

Edited by Bold Standard
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If superheroes get paid for their job (paid enough), then it's not against Objectivist philosophy. (This can be compared to Police, etc.)

Now, consider how many heroes actually get something out of their risky job.

Another case that would be OK according to Objectivism is: heroes get satisfaction of thinking how awesome/just they are that they help people (who are of no value to them). However, this one is a bit tricky, as it's hard to measure if they are trading their work for lesser values. This one is hard to measure as some heroes' minds aren't presented well enough to judge if they get some form of satisfaction and how much of it.

Some do indeed trade lesser values for their work. For example, Spiderman movie shows Parker getting fired from this job, partially caused by his hero work for people who are of no value to him.

So, now I pose the question, what superheros do get their effort worth?

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As a big fan of comic book heroes, this is something I've thought about often, and have posted on here in the past. I think these threads would be of interest to you:

On Spider-Man 2 -

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=1556

On Batman Begins -

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...ic=3803&hl=Hulk

On the Hulk -

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=3785&

Comics in General -

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...ic=3091&hl=Hulk

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About killing criminals-- according to Objectivism, the government should hold an initiation on the retaliatory use of force.

That's a typo, I think. It should read "the government should hold a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force."

There isn't really a place for vigilantism in Objectivist political thoery. To be justified, it would require a major breakdown of law and order. In a society where law and order exists, there must be an objective enforcement of laws: i.e. due process, an impartial judge, etc. Of course, you have a right to act in self-defense. If a criminal threatens you, you'd have every right to shoot him dead. But to put on a costume and chase them down? No, not really. If law and order exists, why not simply join the police?

While Rorshach may have been written as what the author thought was an Objectivist, he also may have been meant to be a nutcase that used some Objectivist concepts to rationalize his actions. (that's one reason why we're so keen on distinguishing an Objectivist - someone who accepts the philosophy completely, and someone who simply agrees with some aspects) Or maybe the author just didn't know that much about Objectivism. (that's the most likely)

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That's a typo, I think. It should read "the government should hold a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force."

There isn't really a place for vigilantism in Objectivist political thoery. To be justified, it would require a major breakdown of law and order. In a society where law and order exists, there must be an objective enforcement of laws: i.e. due process, an impartial judge, etc. Of course, you have a right to act in self-defense. If a criminal threatens you, you'd have every right to shoot him dead. But to put on a costume and chase them down? No, not really. If law and order exists, why not simply join the police?

While Rorshach may have been written as what the author thought was an Objectivist, he also may have been meant to be a nutcase that used some Objectivist concepts to rationalize his actions. (that's one reason why we're so keen on distinguishing an Objectivist - someone who accepts the philosophy completely, and someone who simply agrees with some aspects) Or maybe the author just didn't know that much about Objectivism. (that's the most likely)

Well, Rorshach's objectivism wasn't outright stated, it was implied through his journal writings and his complete rejection of the idea of "the greater good." His final statement of "Never compromise" (not going into why he says that for those who haven't read Watchmen but may wish to at some point) is the best example of his Objectivism. Also, Alan Moore, his writer and creator, based Rorshach off of the Charlton Comics character The Question, created by Objectivist Steve Ditko and completely reflected the Objectivist viewpoint of morality and individual rights.

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If superheroes get paid for their job (paid enough), then it's not against Objectivist philosophy. (This can be compared to Police, etc.)

I would broaden this statement to say, "If superheroes obtained enough value from their job, then it would not be in opposition to Objectivism." Considering that many superheroes have been portrayed as independantly wealthy, they may not necessarily need to receive money for their work, and they may derive other value(s) from it.

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Also, Alan Moore, his writer and creator, based Rorshach off of the Charlton Comics character The Question, created by Objectivist Steve Ditko and completely reflected the Objectivist viewpoint of morality and individual rights.

Ah, now I remember. He was a parody of a comic book character that was based on Ditko's (sometimes weird) interpretation of Objectivism. Not exactly an authority on Objectivism.

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I'd say "parody" is too strong a word. Alan Moore wanted to use the original characters, but DC was already working them into their normal continuity, so he created the Watchmen universe. It could be suggested that Rorshach was a parody in that his extremist Objectivism caused him to live in squalor conditions and was, at time, rather paranoid or delusional, but that could just be that he himself contained mental flaws while still maintaining an Objectivist philosophy.

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...his extremist Objectivism caused him to live in squalor conditions and was, at time, rather paranoid or delusional, but that could just be that he himself contained mental flaws while still maintaining an Objectivist philosophy.

What is "extremist Objectivism?" There is only Objectivism and things which aren't Objectivism.

Also, if he maintained an Objectivist philosophy, he wouldn't act on flaws. It would be more accurate to say that he contained mental flaws while still talking about Objectivist principles.

These distinctions are important.

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What is "extremist Objectivism?" There is only Objectivism and things which aren't Objectivism.

Also, if he maintained an Objectivist philosophy, he wouldn't act on flaws. It would be more accurate to say that he contained mental flaws while still talking about Objectivist principles.

These distinctions are important.

I'm inclined to agree, then, that it's more accurate to say that he contained mental flaws while still talking about Objectivist principles. Here, since I'm not the authority on Rorshach and since you haven't read Watchmen, here's the Wiki info for him:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorschach_%28comics%29

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That's a typo, I think. It should read "the government should hold a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force."

LOL, yes, that's a typo. Thanks, Inspector. :) "Initiation on the retaliatory use of force." What would that mean??

Some do indeed trade lesser values for their work. For example, Spiderman movie shows Parker getting fired from this job, partially caused by his hero work for people who are of no value to him.

So, now I pose the question, what superheros do get their effort worth?

Actually, though I believe Parker has done a few altruistic deeds in his career, my understanding is that a considerable portion of his income is obtained through selling photographs of himself and the villians in mid-battle, to the newspaper where he works. In that sense, he's one of the few heroes who actually is, literally, "paid" for his efforts.

Although some comedic and sometimes even dramatic situations occur from the fact that his boss hates Spiderman (for completely irrational reasons), the fact remains that the publicity-- whether positive or negative, drives the sales of the papers, and when the paper does good, Peter Parker does good. So the relationship between the paper and Spiderman is really kind of symbiotic, in that respect. (Not like the one sided relationship between, say Roark and The Banner).

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Could you tell me the source you are basing that statement off of, please?

It's my understanding that she opposed the current implementation of the death penalty from a practical standpoint for the reason he mentioned, but that she thought that it was otherwise morally justifiable.

When I have access to my research CD I will post something if someone else hasn't already.

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It's my understanding that she opposed the current implementation of the death penalty from a practical standpoint for the reason he mentioned, but that she thought that it was otherwise morally justifiable.

When I have access to my research CD I will post something if someone else hasn't already.

I already searched my CD. I went to the ARI website and found this in its FAQ:

"What was Ayn Rand's view on capital punishment?

She thought it was morally just, but legally dangerous—because of the possibility of jury errors which could not be rectified after the death of the innocent man. She had no position on whether there should be a death penalty or not."

So again, I'd like to see a source for Bold Standard's statement, specifically where he used the word "opposed".

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It's my understanding that she opposed the current implementation of the death penalty from a practical standpoint for the reason he mentioned, but that she thought that it was otherwise morally justifiable.

Hm! Yeah, that's what I remember reading, too. But I can't find it on my OR CD-ROM. I think the place I read about it was in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Does the Lexicon contain articles not included in Mr. Oliver's CD-ROM? Maybe I'm not doing the search right....

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Hm! Yeah, that's what I remember reading, too. But I can't find it on my OR CD-ROM. I think the place I read about it was in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Does the Lexicon contain articles not included in Mr. Oliver's CD-ROM? Maybe I'm not doing the search right....

You won't find it on the OR CD-ROM. I can assure you that the first thing I'm going to do when I get home tonight is to look in my The Ayn Rand Lexicon and see what I can find. Yes, the Lexicon does contain exerpts from sources that are not on the OR CD-ROM, and I wager that none cite Rand as being "opposed" to capital punishment, or the Lexicon quoting her as saying that as well.

*edited for spelling only

Edited by intellectualammo
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